Newly launched hotel brand, SALT, has opened the doors to its first resort, 59‐key SALT of Palmar located on the east coast of Mauritius. A riad-style complex of buildings on Palmar beach designed in 2005 by local architect Maurice Giraud has been vividly reimagined by the designers Camille Walala and Julia Jomaa, and architect John-François Adams as an homage to the vibrant colors and patterns of the island.
Devoted to the wonder of all things local and sustainable, the unconventional new hotel brand is committed to taking guests to people – not just places – and unearthing the beating heart of destinations. So, at the core of Jean‐François’ designs is a desire to bring the natural environment and local Mauritian way of life to the forefront, giving every visitor a real sense of what his homeland has to offer.
Taking an incredible existing geometric, riad‐like building on the fringe of Palmar beach’s pure white sand, he carefully repurposed the standing structures to accentuate the hotel’s proximity to the sea. As part of this, he orientated all beds to face the water and redesigned the pool to better its connection with the beach. In addition, he played to the island’s warm tropical light, allowing the location’s natural colors to shine.
Fauna and flora have been protected throughout this project; adding a sense of timeless serenity to the scene. Jean‐François’ explained, “Everything about the hotel is designed to bring people together. From the communal tables in the bakery, restaurant and beach bar, to Mauritius’ first roof-top bar and the inviting spaces in the SALT equilibrium spa, it is all about gathering and sharing stories of travels and enjoyment of this incredible location.”
With the energy of doing things differently living at the heart of the SALT brand, it is fitting that the interiors were realized by an artist instead of an interior designer. Camille Walala’s uninhibited approach to color married with her passion for the island of Mauritius made her the perfect choice. Camille’s task was to find the perfect balance between her own creative impulse and the authentic expression of the island’s character – fresh, playful and irresistibly positive in outlook.
To find inspiration, she traveled around Mauritius, meeting with local artisans and absorbing the bright palette that punctuates the island; from verdant landscapes, brightly painted houses, azure seascapes and show‐stopping sunsets, to the spirit of its communities and the colorful mosaic of culture that makes Mauritius so special.
“People paint their houses in the most amazing tones that really stand out against the lush tropical setting,” says Walala. “When choosing the colours for SALT of Palmar I wanted to try and get a balance between natural tones and bold pop colours. The space is supposed to be fun and hero the beauty of the incredible island.”
“Camille Walala’s relationship with colour is precisely the same as most Mauritians’ – for both, colour is a vehicle for joy and a means of expressing positivity,” says Paul Jones, CEO of The Lux Collective. “She is the ideal artist for SALT of Palmar; I must have been in the hotel 100 times as it developed over the last few months but, whenever I see them, her designs still make me feel happy.”
Detailing throughout the hotel is authentic, artisanal and unique. Local ceramicist Janine designed and crafted the hotel’s tableware – a beautiful set of 950 individual pieces for SALT of Palmar; each one made entirely by hand. Janine shared, “I wanted to deliver something really special, so we worked with a specially formulated charcoal clay combined with a grey glaze base to create an effect that showcases the Mauritian savoir-faire.”
With the support of Jean‐François’ and his team, Camille met an array of local characters, such as 74‐year‐old basket weaver Reotee Buleeram who has crafted the beautiful beach bags at SALT of Palmar. And father and son duo, Mawlabaccus and Said Moosbally, who are the masterminds behind the rattan ware chairs throughout the resort.
The result is a showcase of local talent and an authentic expression of island style. “Visiting artisan workshops with Camille to collaborate on the intricate details was very special. These experiences were the most rewarding moments of the project,” says Jean‐François.
The culmination is a hotel that looks unlike any other on the island. Where most resorts take their own design template and transplant it into their setting, SALT has done the reverse, channelling the character of its surroundings to shape its look and feel.